Is Kayaking Good Exercise

Is Kayaking Good Exercise? (how “kayak cardio” stacks up)

If you’re like me, you already love kayaking. Or maybe you haven’t tried it before but are interested in picking up some new outdoor hobbies and would like to learn how. If so, you’ll want to know whether paddling in a kayak is good exercise. Yes, kayaking is fun, but wouldn’t it be great to burn calories and get fit while having a blast? So, Is kayaking is good exercise? Yes, and in today’s article I’ll explain why it is great for your body, and how it stacks up to some other outdoor sports you may be considering.

Kayaking is excellent exercise and a great way to get the blood flowing while enjoying all that nature has to offer. This watersport burns plenty of calories, uses a variety of muscles in the body, and it provides a host of other health benefits you may not have considered.

Kayaking Exercise

With kayaking, you enjoy intense physical exercise as well as the benefits of being in the great outdoors, breathing the fresh air out on the water. But when it comes to just exercise, how does kayaking compare to going to the gym, going for a run, riding a bike, or some other workouts you may be more familiar with?

How Does Kayaking Burn Calories?

Kayaking is a pretty impressive calorie burner. It’s all in the way it works your muscles. If you kayak for a full hour, you may burn as many as 500 calories.

Kayaking burns calories by working out a wide range of muscles in your body, including your core muscles, back muscles, and shoulder muscles. Kayaking is a great activity for building and strengthening your muscles.

The exact number of calories you burn depends on not only the length of time you kayak, but also your body weight, exertion level, and environmental conditions.

How Good is Kayaking as Exercise? How Does Kayaking Burn Calories?

The higher your body weight, the more calories you’re likely to burn. When it comes to environmental conditions, challenging weather (such as wind) may lead to a higher calorie burn. Obviously if you have paddle with more effort over a longer period, you’ll use more energy.

The kind of water you’re kayaking on also plays a role. For example, if you are kayaking on the ocean, you are probably dealing with a lot more resistance with your paddling. This means more calories are burned.

It’s pretty common to burn 500 calories in one hour in these kinds of conditions. It’s kayaking’s effectiveness as a cardiovascular exercise that makes it so good at burning calories, and cardio is great for overall health and wellness.

Is Kayaking Better than Going to the Gym?

That depends on what you do at the gym. If you do strength training, the gym is probably the best place to continue doing this kind of fitness work. However, if you’re going for cardio exercise, kayaking may be just as good as the gym.

Is Kayaking a Good Workout?

While kayaking isn’t technically a strength-training exercise, over time it will help you strengthen several muscles in your body. Here are some muscle areas you can work with kayaking:

Arm Muscles

The arms are an area that gets great benefit from kayaking. This activity strengthens the triceps and biceps.

Abdominal Muscles

You exercise your core (including abdominal) muscles much more than you probably imagine when you go kayaking. It happens when you make strokes to propel your watercraft. If you commit to kayaking regularly over a long period, you’ll see your core getting firmer and leaner. We all want that!

Lower Back Muscles

You’ve probably heard fitness nuts call lower back muscles their “lats.” I was surprised by how much kayaking exercises this area of the body, especially when you make backward strokes. They stretch out your lower back muscles, as well as arms.

Frequently change your rowing speed if you want to work out your lower back muscles. Do this in relatively short bursts, as it’s pretty tricky to do this over an extended period.

Is Kayaking Good Exercise for Weight Loss?

Yes, like any other kind of exercise (particularly cardio), kayaking can help you lose weight. Not only will kayaking burn up to 500 calories an hour, but it can firm up your muscles over time and boost your metabolism. If you have enough stamina to kayak for three hours, you’ll probably burn over 1,000 calories and enjoy some great scenery.

Kayaking as a Cardio Workout - Is Kayaking Good Exercise for Weight Loss?

Kayaking is even more of a calorie-burner than jogging! Kayaking also helps with your stress levels. For many people, feeling stressed can lead to weight gain. For example, they may engage in emotional eating. That’s why kayaking can set you up for success with dieting.

Kayaking is Good Exercise for Your Cardiovascular System

Kayaking is a great cardiovascular workout. If you want to stay healthy and keep your cardiovascular system strong, you should do cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis.

Kayaking can count as your main cardio exercise if you go out on the water on a regular basis.

Are There Other Sports that are Good Cardio Workouts?

Yes, there are definitely many other sports and recreational activities that provide great cardio exercise in addition to kayaking.

Kayaking Workout

Variety is the spice of life, and in my opinion changing up your workout routine keeps exercise a sustainable part of your life. Let’s explore several of these other cardio options below:

Riding a Bicycle

Do you have a bike? Try riding it more often to give yourself the benefits of a cardiovascular workout. If you don’t have a bicycle, think about investing in one and riding it around your neighborhood.

Do you have bicycling trails nearby? That’s the perfect spot for riding a bike and enjoying a day in the great outdoors. If you don’t have any places to ride in the area, consider investing in a stationary bike to use indoors.

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope (also known as skipping rope) is a fantastic tool in your fitness journey. You were probably a kid the last time you did this, but you might want to take it up again.

Using a jumping rope is always an outstanding cardiovascular exercise. Be patient as you practice. It takes a while to get the knack.


Swimming is the perfect cardiovascular exercise for water lovers. If kayaking isn’t your thing but you love spending time in pools or on the beach, try swimming for your cardiovascular workout.

Paddle Boarding

If you’re looking for another water sport that may be less expensive to get into, consider a stand up paddle boarding. Using a SUP can burn a lot of calories and give you a great workout, while offering many of the other benefits you’ll get in a kayak.

They’re different forms of water transportation and exercise, so consider your local waterways and decide which will work best for you.

How to Kayak Safely

Without question, kayaking is a good exercise. It’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise, and it will also help tone and strengthen your muscles over time. But like any other watersport, kayaking calls for certain safety measures.

Kayaking for Exercise

Don’t even consider kayaking if you don’t know how to swim. And of course, remember to wear personal flotation devices. Wearing a life jacket is the law in many states, and it’s a good idea for everyone, even if you’re experienced and understand how to wet-exit your kayak.

Also, avoid trying advanced kayaking without proper instruction and experience. As a beginner kayaker, stay on calm waters in sunny weather, and always go with a friend or family member.

Only the most experienced and knowledgeable kayakers can go whitewater kayaking. If you try to get too sophisticated before you are ready, you’re creating a dangerous situation.

Final Thoughts About Kayaking as a Workout

So, is kayaking right for you? It’s certainly great exercise and is a whole lot of fun, but if you’re like me too much of any one thing isn’t good at all. Part of maintaining overall health is to incorporate variety into your exercise routine, and kayaking is a great way to enjoy a change of scene, get some fresh air, and get a great workout.

Would I kayak exclusively as my go-to workout? Probably not. But Kayaking a few times a week to change up my normal cardio routine is a definitely on the menu.